Category Archives: Global Afro Woman Protagonist

Carlita Victoria a Rising Star!

I know Carlita Victoria through her mother, Cathey, with whom I met when working at the City of Raleigh. She was involved with Community Services and youth programs. Cathey spoke about her daughter dancing, then spoke about her being on Broadway! I loved dancing and lived in New York. That was an exciting time, now Carlita Victoria has taken that by a storm! She has established her presence as part of the internet baby generation. Though I have not met her. I’ve heard her energetic voice over the phone. Her beginnings may have been in Raleigh, but her world is New York City. Her array of talent is obvious from her carlitavictoria.com website and Facebook page. She is a star though she may not have imagined that when fulfilling her dreams in New York and around the Globe performing in far off places like Ghana, West Africa and Seoul Korea. Her field is based on having and bringing talent forward to audiences. One must project a note, a feeling, an expression that is understood by a variety of audiences. That is very demanding including the logistics of practice, preparation, and performance. Carlita Victoria must love what she does. Her video shows her as a teacher and performer. She is the full package to be a Broadway performer, a member of dance troupes, traveling Broadway plays and performances in local venues.

Carlita Victoria is also a comedian, one of my favorite talents after dancing.  I have yet to see this side and pray our local clubs finds a way to include her in their programming selection. Meanwhile this prolific young artist has recently tackled something that overwhelmed her immense artistic expression, a mental health breakdown. When the body and mind is so fully engaged it may be hard to accept something is wrong and find yourself face to face with a desire to end it all. Unthinkable would be the outside and uninformed impression, yet it can happen to our best and brightest. That is when it is stunning and challenging to reimagine this person and their struggle. As in Carlita’s life she was surrounded by family and friends so that decisive moment was not acted upon. Emerging from this reality inspired a passion to create a play that addressed her experience for others to learn from and seek help knowing they are not alone.

Her most recent work is probably her most original. It may also have cast her in a new role as playwright and producer. The play was introduced at the African American Cultural Festival as ‘Darkness Rising Project‘. This is her story and testimony to the world. Given the African American history with the health industry we have tended to shy away and be dependent on our limited community resources. With a shortage of mental health professionals from our race, there are better trained health resources to support us. The Affordable Care Act offers us access to care options and given that it is a biological illness and very treatable. Many of us suffer while it can turn our lives upside down. African Americans contribute to being 40% of our homeless population. The work that Carlita Victoria has developed is a gift to our awareness and subsequent solutions to mental health challenges.

Before this mental break and afterwards, we have Carlita Victoria, an amazing talent, to enjoy and appreciate for years to come. Now is the time to pay attention to her message and wish her the best. She is a star and our protagonist.

Art and article by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Rissi Palmer, Artist Musician

One evening a friend and I went to the Pour House in downtown Raleigh to listen to music. The brick alley way entry reminded me of clubs in New York and DC. We were pleasantly surprised to hear the level and quality of music from the first act jazz singer and pianist. Then there was a break. We read about the next act being a country singer. Not knowing what to expect and intrigued at the same time, we awaited our introduction to a new singer, a woman who had a voice, style, talent and unique sound, Rissi Palmer. It was a shock that Rissi was a local. She seemed too polished. This may have been about four years ago. Her claiming country music was unique for an African American woman. In that show we learned that Rissi had begun her career with a top ten chart for a country single and later left the Nashville scene to start a family. At the Pour House we learned shows relaunching her career.

Rissi is an instagram sensation. Here is where she successfully weaves her public persona as a musician with her private life. Rissi Palmer’s story is well documented on her website, and online including an interview on an NPR show which was a treat. At five years old under the influence of her mother she was exposed to American singer Patty Kline and R&B Soul. Her passions took her from high school straight into a music career. Her instrument of choice is the guitar which compliments her voice.

After that first performance, I have been tracking Rissi with my friend enjoying her unique style of music. Since then she has continued to reinvent herself as a ‘Southern Music Singer’ which continues to include Country. What I could discern from her first hit anyone could be country in the USA and I agree with that! It is fitting that her music genres at a 2017 Year’s Eve popular spot in downtown Raleigh expanded to include R&B and POP.

It could be difficult to get to know public figures like Rissi, who began her career on the road like Taylor Swift going from town to town to do radio interviews as part of the Country music scene.  Yet she is very open to meeting and connecting with her fans. I was fortunate when she, her husband and daughter visited my first art show in downtown Raleigh. You would think that was the time to take photos but not one, just talking and sharing. It was a fantastic moment. I could sense her openness for people, patience, humility and awareness. Perhaps these personality traits helped drum up her strong opinions on societal wrongs.

I’ve spent time while in New York going to jazz clubs around town. At  ‘Slugs’ in the east village, I heard all time greats like Pharoah Saunders, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, former members of John Coltrane’s band. I saw Carmen McCray in New York’s West Village, and Miles Davis and Arthur Prysock in Harlem. Midtown dinner clubs hosted Joe Williams, and Johnny Hartman. Great singers included a moment at Howard University in DC singing Christmas carols with the amazing voice of Donny Hathaway. Rissi is a special singer on the rise with a unique message. By musician standards she is still very young in her evolution. Her passion and voice extended to youth under the umbrella of her non-profit, WeAreSeeds.net, ‘focused on “raising happy, healthy, socially conscious, intellectual, and spiritually strong children in the ‘Post-Truth’ Resistance Era”’. This site and initiative is a reflective of her worldview!

Rissi Palmer’s new ‘Seed’ Album, inspired by the name of her non-profit, hits the market on October 15, 2018 according to her Instagram post. I also noticed she had been working on a socially conscious video. You may keep up with this unique song bird on Instagram, when lucky sometimes, even live around Raleigh!

Art and article by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.

Naomi Wadler Future of Youth Activism!

Naomi 11 years old activist against gun violence.

Naomi Wadler, at eleven years old, sparked the imagination of many around the world. This adopted Ethiopian-American youth was asked, by her elected official representing Alexandria, Virginia, to speak at the Parkland inspired ‘Gun Against Violence’ national demonstration in March 2018.  She volunteered to give voice honoring African American teenage girls murdered by gun violence. Naomi has added another level of awareness to the reality of gun violence within the nation’s capital black community along side school shootings.

Naomi is not new to activism. She organized a walk out at her school against gun violence. Her participation in this event with the Parkland students, has given her national recognition as a measured speaker with youthful wisdom in delivering a message to an engaged and spell bound equally youthful audience. That loss of 17 lives, in the close nit community,  including three teachers was a national tragedy sparking a global student protest movement, yielding some legislative successes and beginning a nationwide voter registration drive. 

Naomi’s passion came earlier then her eleven years. Her clarity about what is right with fearlessness to challenge those around her. This ‘Global Afro Youth’ captures confidence, awareness, presence, and resolve in delivering a message for little girls like herself who can think and make wise decisions against what they see as wrong. She represents our future and knowing this makes her an important voice as our protagonist. We encourage her success!

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson of www.lillianonline.us

Marielle Franco – Afro-Brazilian Martyr for Human Rights

Marielle Franco

The United Nations has initiatives to recognize people of African Descent which started in 2015 and go until 2024. This includes all people who were affected by the Slave Trade. Populations in major countries in South and North America as well as the islands and adjoining countries like Mexico.

This article about Marielle will hopefully offer a connection with mutual struggles and challenges for people of African Descent in and outside of the contiguous United States and its provinces and detached states. Marielle as Afro-Brazilian came from the very community she knew, loved and fought for on the national stage. Marielle Franco was also called a ‘Black Human Rights Activist’. As council person she represented residents of Rio De Janeiro. She had ambitions, as a civil society activist, and according the ‘NPR’ article campaigned  ‘against lethal methods routinely used by security forces with the city’s poorest neighborhoods’. As ‘a wave of anger and indignation on social media and protests in the streets’, according to the NPR article, her legacy is of a ‘charismatic young woman with a one record of championing social causes in a metropolis plagued by issues of violence, race, and poverty’.

I learned about her on the day of her funeral when several thousands of people some with signs saying,  “How many more have to die?” Does this sound familiar ? The obvious answer is from the USA Black Community and the another from Student protests over gun laws. She was shot ‘returning from an event to empowering black women in Brazil, a cause she passionately championed’. (NPR article) Given the civilian casualties, in 2017 of 6,731 and in one month at 2018 649, included people killed during police operations. The president of Brazil recently gave military jurisdiction over security in the state of Rio De Janeiro. Marielle spoke out about more violence, blaming recent homicides (shockingly two youths killed and thrown in the gutter) on the police while declaring the ‘military police unit’ as “the battalion of death’ based on number of civilians shot by its officers.  “The poor people are black,” he said. “The worst opportunities are for blacks. The worst schools are in the black neighborhoods (shanty towns) or in favelas.” according to a visiting Brazilian speaking to the St. Louis American Newspaper.

Her positions as a feminist, leader of anti-racist movement and inequality drew mainly the middle class while the poor needed more engagement. She was born in a shanty town grew up with more freedom in the 80’s then her people now have present day Brazil 2018. As a mother of an eighteen year old daughter, she was persistent, achieving her masters in public administration. Her life causes and death had reached the many thousands of people who poured into the streets protesting her ‘assassination’. The crosshairs of police brutality, gang control of ‘shanty towns’, and crackdown on violence turned over to the military made the focus of protest against violence a dilemma for a young leader caught in the cross fire. The St. Louis American newspaper article also quoted the visiting Brazilian as saying that his country had more mixed race couples but was also more segregated than the states. Some writers on her loss wrote about hopelessness for Black People in Brazil. She will not be forgotten.

The struggle for various rights here in the USA and the turning back of hard fought legislature for voting, and women’s rights as well as rounding up immigrants without cause is the present day climate in the USA. This only reinforces the point that the battle is not over and may never be; one thing though, we are not alone. Read David Wilson’s excellent article, about Marielle Franco, in OKAY AFRICA, a documentary film maker and founder of TheGrio.com, now a resident of Salvadore, Bahia: http://www.okayafrica.com/marielle-franco-police-murder/

Article and Art by Lillian L. Thompson for lillianonline.us

Naomi Osaka – Tennis Rising Star- Haitian-American-Japanese

Naomi Osaka, Tennis Player

First and foremost the unseeded Naomi Osaka won the Indian Wells Open this past weekend (March 18). The same tournament who’s past leadership guided a policy of exclusion directed at the Williams Tennis Dynasty. Just a few years ago those now in control of the tournament opened their arms wide to both Venus and Serena. These two legends came with trepidation’s given past history. Now that has all changed and Venus the taller one and also the most active one returned with impressive results over the last several years, despite Indian Wells missing her youthful prime performances. Now they are experiencing another resurgence by Venus this year at 37 years of age only to perhaps to see her lose staying power in a defeat to a 20 year old in the semi-finals. If this had gone the way I dreamed, It would have been the opportunity to appreciate the other 20 year old finalist Naomi Osaka play her tennis idol Venus Williams (8). Just a note that Venus knocked out her sister, Serena, a new mom, upon her return to serious competition. Serena will return!

I have been watching the rise of Naomi Osaka for several years. She has the tennis star physique, tall, strong, fast, serves at 125 mph with varying spin and paces and apparently got her mental act together. That demonstration was apparent in her defeat of the world’s number one, Simone Halep in the semi-final run at Indian Wells. The championship was unambiguous as was the final score (63 62) against her also 20 year old opponent Daria Kasatkina ranked (20). This win places Osaka at number 22, her highest so far. Statistics shows she wins at 59.29% and this is also her first WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) title a major accomplishment for an upcoming tennis player. Her grand slam results have been consistent at 3rd or 4th rounds.

Naomi, born in Japan has a Haitian Father and a Japanese Mother and moved to the United States of America at three years old. She has a sister Mari, also a professional tennis player. She is coached by David Taylor, a veteran Australian coach. Her new sparring partner, Sascha Bajin, formerly worked with Serena during her Grand Slam runs and most recently Wozniacki, who just recently won the Australian Open 2018. The future of professional tennis will have major nation representation. Naomi represents Japan yet she remains a Global Afro Woman in my book and that is part of my recognition. How many will the young Osaka influence from all the nations she represents? As many as possible, I hope! Her website is naomgosaka.com. Visit us at artbylillianlthompson.com.

PS: Since the initial writing of this article, Naomi Osaka played and defeated Serena Williams at the Miami Open only to fall the next round. I hope she remembers that it is difficult to beat Serena twice and savored her victory. Given her size and talent she and Serena will most surely meet again and that will be another story.

Article and art by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Rihanna, Snapchat, and Domestic Violence: Power of Voice

 

Rihanna

I normally do not select high profile Global Afro Women who are doing very well in the media, besides my community has a pretty good Idea of who they are. In this instance, it is important. My respect continues to grow for Rihanna. Do not ask me about her latest this or that which is for her generation to address. I’ve seen her in fashion, and a Central Park performance. I have seen snippets of her in photos receiving awards and of course her past public love affair with Chris Brown. Both young, wealthy rising stars. She is a success story. That’s it!

The latest Snapchat app designed to enlist users to decide whether to ‘slap’ Rihanna or ‘punch’ Chris Brown drew a comment from Rihanna putting them on notice. Many people want fame yet this display of what I would call ‘a predatory hustle’ from Snapchat reflected the problem of a public life in pursuit of your craft and love relationships. It also shows how these billion dollar companies draw attention to their platforms. Apparently this was unneeded as on 60 Minutes last evening (March 18, 2018) reported on the upcoming generation of Saudi youths favorite past-time is Snapchat. Going after ‘Domestic Violence’ is the low blow of this new app ad, which the company pulled from the web, though it continues to circulate through other sources. Rihanna’s reaction with her 60 million followers caused the stock to tank 4% or 800 million dollars after saying the ‘app-oligy’ ought to be thrown away. Making it clear to the observer, she did not have many feelings about it, pointing out the many people going through or into domestic violence relationships now. (NPR article)

While some states are grappling with domestic violence as it relates to gun control, this being ‘Women History Month’ and high schoolers walkout due to gun violence, our cute technology companies are sitting in the back rooms apparently OUT OF TOUCH with reality. They had to be and their whole corporate system had to be to fund this kind of gaming for public consumption. This, what I consider a black or white issue, begs the question, are they part of the problem or part of solution. Which is Snapchat?

Article and art by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.us

Lillian L. Thompson, Visual Artist Re-emerges

Art by LT Exhibit Mailer pdf

 

Why re-emerge as a visual artist after so many years of being a designer, project manager    or coordinator of the built environment? As it goes, my youth was involved with drawing among other things (like dancing), exposing more talent after entering Howard University. Fortunate to work under some impressive professors and national acclaimed artists. Regardless that I had my sites set on Interior Design and later studied Architecture also with impressive teachers. While art is part of architecture and interior design, actual drawing has suffered because of technology requirements. Perhaps the very best Architects, which I respect, especially  those with great talent and foresight to envision a building, still form sketchy drawings and move through a process to technical and artistic buildings i.e Michael Graves and Phil Freelon.

In the beginning of 2017 I picked up my favorite pens and started sketching again. What poured out of me were not masterpieces but unique expressions of a quiet spirit. I remain an artist. I am still excited about the idea that art can tell stories and empower souls. I have moved in four steps with my drawings which I will show at the Exhibit on April 6, 2018, a First Friday in Downtown Raleigh at the Revive Raleigh Massage Therapy space at 1151/2 second level. I will bring my recent discoveries, as I return to the endless possibilities of artistic expression. My reveal at this age is as exciting as my triumphs in the design field against many tribulations.

This work is causing reflection and introspection for me as a human being,  an African-American, all the many titles I’ve had and more importantly, citizen of the Globe and member of the Global Afro Woman family, of which I intend to investigate and flourish within. This first public exhibit, an adventure which I hope many who come to see can look for my evolution over this year as a new beginning. This link will reveal a flyer for the exhibit.  Art by LT Exhibit Mailer pdf

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson of Lillianonline.us

 

 

Yamiche Alcindor – Multimedia Journalist

 

Yamiche Alcindor

The New York Times claimed her as their former national reporter covering politics and social justice issues. Yamiche Alcindor, is now  with “The PBS Newshour” as a White House correspondent, and was mentored by the late Gwen Ifill, (PBS Newshour) an American Peabody Award-winning Journalist, newscaster and author. Yamiche ‘continues as a political contributor to NBC and MSNBC’, currently she covers Congress, ‘the impact of the Trump Administration’s policies on working class Americans and people of color and intersection between race and politics in America’ according to Managing Editor at PBS Newshour, Judy Woodruff,  who was struck by the combination of her ‘eye for detail, crisp writing and passion for the craft with a gift for communicating on air.’

In the trenches, Yamiche Alcindor has ‘reported on the Newton Conn. school shooting, the death of Trayvon Martin, and police related protest in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore, Maryland.’

She was acknowledged in 2017 by The Root’s annual list of most influential African Americans in the country. That influence extends to a ‘1804 list’ awards honoring Haiti’s independence and recognizing influential Haitian-Americans. The National Association of Black Journalists gave her a nod as Emerging Journalist of the Year in 2013.

Alcindor holds a master’s degree in broadcast news and documentary filmmaking from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in English, government and African American studies from Georgetown University according to her bio on the PBS website.

Yamiche has become a trusted source for news in the black community. She is a native of Miami, Florida whose parents are native Haitians. Her love for writing started at a very young age. She did internships at The Seattle Times, Miami-Herald, and The Washington Post. After graduation in 2009 she began full time work as reporter at Newsday. Utilizing her fluent creole and French Language, Yamiche covered the Haitian earthquake ‘providing guidance’ to journalist. Yamiche defines herself as a multimedia journalist which drew the attention of USA Today where she worked from 2011 to 2015, during which time she gained her master’s from NYU. (Source from Defining Cultures and her Website.)

Yamiche is continuing to evolve professionally and her unique perspective could serve as a solid and reliable source of information on what is happening to people of African descent affected by slave trade across the Atlantic into South America, Caribbean Islands and lower United States. Many have entered the United States as refugees or immigrants seeking new beginnings. These days the news media is under attack so Yamiche Alcindor along with Joy Reid (AM Joy of MSNBC), another Haitian, have greater meaning as sources of truthful reporting in the USA community’s of color.

She is represented by WME (William Morris Endeavor out of Beverly Hills, California) and attorney Kathleen Conkey.

Art and article by Lillian L Thompson of Lillianonline

 

 

 

Amara La Negra – Afro-Latina Beauty and Brains

Amara La Negra

This USA born citizen and bred Dominican personifies the kind of beauty that shocks the long promoted standard images of Europeans. Who declared ‘Black is Beautiful’? Amara has grey eyes, and eye glass figure, a big round buttock, a thin nose, small lips, gorgeous dark skin and a huge afro. This combination of elements makes her Afro-Latina. She is popular in the Latina countries. They appreciate the range and variety of shapes, sizes and shades as ‘La Negra’ puts it. While Miami is considered the capital of South America, breaking into the rest of the USA is quite another feat. Amara speaks Spanish with an accent as if she were reared in Dominica and speaks perfect English as well. These combinations of physical attributes, talent as a singer/dancer performer, and fluent in Spanish has made her somewhat of a sensation.

Her breakthrough moment came with the VH+1 Hip Hop reality TV Series, this time in Miami. When she describes the show’ approach, it is being put into certain situations and reacting yet being aware of ones surroundings and career goals.  Her first show defined Amara La Negra’s potential legacy. Upon meeting a producer that help developing artist break into the American Market, she was challenged with changing her image. The comparison reflected one image is so much better than another for example he said ‘be less Macy Gray (natural hair) and more Beyonce’. The producer inquired whether her huge afro was a statement of being black as a noted ‘black power symbol’ (arm raised)? Before this ‘reality tv’ meeting Amara was not a spokesperson for colorism although she had experienced differences most of her life starting as a child performer. Her mother worked many jobs to ensure her vivacious and outgoing daughter had platforms to showcase her talents. Amara is committed to her mother’s happiness and thankful for her sacrifice. Her mother is also her advisor. La Negra walked away from that very established producer into several multimillion dollar contracts including a major record company and international manager.

Amara La Negra answer questions about her cause and has vocally challenged the Latina community to face up to their quiet acceptance of colorism within the culture. You can find her online doing interviews on radio talk shows, Hip Hop Miami, and articles about her interaction with the producer, who by the way, off set made fun of Amara’s hair style thus triggering her crusade. Despite the Latina producer being uncomfortable with her look. La Negra has made her hair even bigger with extensions, and declares this look is her most comfortable. Amara declares that her look is the ‘attention getter’ to raise the level of discussion for Latina to address discrimination due to ‘colorism’ within their cultures. Amara La Negra points out that all the South American countries and islands with people of Latina origin have people who look like her. She wants to represent a positive image for young girls. There were very few black Latina role models when she was growing up thereby looked to African Americans such as Whitney Houston and Donna Summers. Amara is flashy, spirited, sexy and talented with shade constantly being thrown at her. An example would be other Latina who do ‘black face’ mocking so-called European features and dark skin. While she builds her breakthrough career in the rest of States, she is the woman to be admired and respected. Amara La Negra will bring up all the stuff that we ‘outside of Miami’ deal with, such as my race vs your race ‘I’m ok, you’re not;  woman vs man sexism and power roles; and what is acceptable beauty in our marketplace. Don’t doubt she will challenges her Latina sisters and brothers to open up on colorism. Yes that includes ‘civil rights’ African Americans and their offsprings.

 

Art and Article by Lillian L. Thompson, founder of Lillianonline.us.

Eunice Johnson of Ebony Fashion Fair

                                                                                 

Fortunate for us Eunice Johnson came along at a time when the  our consciousness as a people was being challenged by the effects of Jim Crow. Our struggle to overcome was aided by her determination to bring ‘mind blowing’ and uplifting fashion shows to African American woman. She let it be known that we could  wear the best designed clothes that international fashion offered. She mixed black fashion designer with noted couture designers from Paris, France. She established networks of women throughout the country, navigated shopping at runway shows overseas in Paris and Milan, Italy, thereby selecting the most exciting styles that would challenge her captive USA audiences.  She proved we could wear bright colors. She was not limited to women; her styles included high style for me as well.  With extraordinary taste and flair Eunice Johnson, a child of Selma, Alabama, educated at three schools for social work, journalism and interior design became noted as our community’s royalty, who brought the very best. Women appreciated her and wore their best to her fashion shows. What is notable is that she had created an economic engine. While we have fashion shows today, there is nothing of this magnitude that acts as jobs creator for models, designers, event planners, announcers, logistics people, with development opportunities from all involved in the production. She was a pioneer, a woman of great taste, an inspiration, and a standard for fashion and beauty.

After seeing the last stop and show of the Ebony Fashion Fair exhibit early January 2018, at the North Carolina Museum of Art, one has to contemplate the full economic impact this show had during its run  for over 50 years. Where did Fashion Fair began? It started as a fundraiser for a hospital in New Orleans in 1958 according to wikipedia. This show toured throughout the USA in 200 cities including Canada and the Caribbean, featuring African American models and fashion designers. It raised over $55 million. Her cosmetic line was created out of providing the appropriate makeup for her models, because there were no lines available for women of color, resulting in her Fashion Fair Cosmetic line and legacy. While Johnson Publishing Company magazines ‘Ebony and Jet’ have sold, the name carries the Fashion Fair US/UK cosmetic divisions and archives of photos.  The people who were fortunate enough to attend an Ebony Fashion Fair Show over the years experienced Eunice Johnson’s vision to uplift, inspire, and promote the beauty of African American Women.

Article and Art by Lillian L. Thompson, shop art at Lillianonline.us